Getting to Know the Stars

This year, CPE selected 10 fast-rising executives to feature as Stars to Watch. The profiles appeared in the April 2011 issue of the magazine; what follows are further insights from those that have worked with them as clients, managers and in other positions, as well as words of advice from these successful 40-and-unders.

This year, CPE selected 10 fast-rising executives to feature as Stars to Watch. The profiles appeared in the April 2011 issue of the magazine (also available through our digital edition or by clicking here); what follows are further insights from those that have worked with them as clients, managers and in other positions, as well as words of advice from these successful 40-and-unders.

Jason Black, 31
Director of Architecture and Sustainability
Reckson, a Division of SL Green

Memorable Achievements: Black started sustainability efforts in 2007 installing sensor devices and LED exit signs. A year later, he began a portfolio lighting retrofit that encompassed many common areas and garages and ultimately cost $1.4 million but saves $600,000 a year. In all, he has developed $4 million in energy conservation programs, saving $1.5 million a year;  he expanded the construction recycling program to include more than 1.2 million square feet of carpet and ceiling tile diverted from landfills; and he secured more than $1.4 million in state and utility incentives. After he completed portfolio benchmarking in early 2011, six properties were awarded the U.S. EPA Energy Star label, and 360 Hamilton Ave. in White Plains is currently registered with the U.S. Green Building Council for pursuit of a LEED EB Certification, anticipated before the end of 2011. Black himself is a LEED Accredited Professional, and is continually educating himself in sustainability advances.

What Others Say About Him: Black stays active in community efforts to further green development. Among his involvement have been stints on the Westchester County Global Warming Task Force and Climate Change Advisory Council, the White Plains Sustainable & Environmental Enhancement Committee and the Port Chester Architecture Board of Review. “Jay has been a catalyst in a lot of these things,” said Dennis Power, director of program development for the Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities, describing Black as “the epitome” of high energy and someone who rarely declines to take on efforts where his skills are beneficial. “He’s fun to be around, too.”

Greatest Challenges: Learning patience with expectations for himself and taking care to “learn how to do something the correct way.”

Secrets to Success: Ninety percent perspiration, 10 percent inspiration. “It’s really working hard and putting in the time and effort. I don’t believe in a magic bullet.”

Best Advice Received: “If you’re invisible, no one sees you.” You constantly have to be pushing the envelope. Also, “nobody’s above the broom.” You have to be willing to do any task. “I always try to maintain a humble status, and I don’t expect anything to be given to me.”

Advice to Others: “Make it what you want it to be—I don’t think I’ve ever let anyone dictate my career; there’s a lot of opportunity.” “Don’t ever be two dimensional. … Diversify.” —S.S.

Timothy Dempsey, 39
Executive Vice President
CB Richard Ellis Inc.

Memorable Achievements: Last year, Dempsey worked on a 209,000-square-foot office deal for PricewaterhouseCoopers L.L.P. in San Jose, a years-long project, and 210,000 square feet in Atlanta; a 117,000-square-foot office lease for News Corp./Dow Jones; and a 103,000-square-foot office lease for Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson in Washington, D.C. In 2009, he worked on a 90,000-square-foot lease for Eli Lilly and Co. in a new development in the East River Science Park. In recent years, he has also helped facilitate development of the 1.6 million-square-foot New York Times building and the 790,000-square-foot PricewaterhouseCoopers global headquarters, and brought Aon Corp.’s Midtown and Downtown Manhattan offices back together in Lower Manhattan, also helping it dispose of its Midtown space.

What Others Have to Say: “The wonderful thing about Tim is he’s a true real estate professional but doesn’t lose sight of what the client’s requirements and needs are,” observed Denise Eccleston, director of global account management in Disney’s corporate real estate services division, who has worked with him for 10 years as both of them have expanded their geographic responsibilities. She praised the fact that he does whatever he can to achieve what the client wants without trying to steer them in another direction.

Biggest Challenge: Clients appreciate it if you are very efficient and concise, and able to communicate as efficiently as possible. “You have to always be cognizant of that.”

Secrets to Success: His father taught him to always be respectful. Dempsey also believes it is important to work very hard, make sure the client comes first, be tough but respectful when negotiating and make sure you are always prepared.

Best Advice Received: Business is all about relationships and all about integrity, and you have to be thorough and diligent. “Always be honest and focus on your integrity, and everything else will work out fine.”

Advice to Others: Be diligent, work hard and don’t compromise your integrity. “There’s a lot happening and changing in this industry right now. It’s all about keeping yourself educating, having the most current information.” —S.S.

Perry Freitas, 31
Vice President of Due Diligence
Hudson Realty Capital L.L.C.

Memorable Achievements: In late November 2010, Freitas closed a $33 million distressed debt acquisition of 109 partially completed age-restricted condominium units in Clifton, N.J., in a very short time window. Last year marked a return to activity for Hudson Realty, which was focused on its existing properties during 2009, and a number of other deals on which he worked last year have closed this year, including a first mortgage on entitled land with retail in Austin, the second phase of a mixed-use property for a repeat client, and a first mortgage on an 861-unit multi-family property in Houston.

What Others Say About Him: “He’s just exceptional,” observed Hudson Realty managing director of origination Spencer Garfield, noting Freitas’ uncommon combination of analytical skills and an ability to understand real estate. “”He’s risen up, but more important, he’s embraced various aspects of the business, which not everybody has the capability to do and very often (they) don’t have the desire to do. … Perry wanted to be a well-rounded real estate person and took it upon himself to learn. He’s one of the most valuable players on the team.” Client Jason Post, president of Post Investment Group, calls him “a consummate professional (who) gets it done in an environment where uncertainty is prevalent. He brings an aura of comfort and reliability to a transaction.” With 10,000 units around the country, Post Investment Group specializes in rehabilitating and stabilizing heavily distressed assets. Working with the challenges of meeting timelines on such assets, Freitas is able to contribute perspective and insight from the due diligence stage through post-close, Post added.

Hardest Lesson Learned: Never be afraid to bring forth bad news, whether it is a mistake or something uncovered during due diligence.

Secrets to Success: Work hard, but more important, work smart. “Try to find ways to achieve my goals more efficiently.” In financial modeling, he has tried to make the process simpler and more efficient.

Best Advice Received: “In this business, integrity, honesty and transparency … will save people a lot of time and money.” It will come back as a benefit, as well.

Advice to Others: Always enjoy what you do. It’s difficult to excel in something if you cannot be passionate about it. —S S.

Adelaide Grady, 32
Vice President of Development
Wood Partners

Memorable Achievements: As co-chair of Wood’s Green Team, Grady led the company’s transition toward more energy-efficient and environmentally responsible building practices. With her help, the Boston office had three deals under contract within a few months of opening. Though one fell through due to a lack of bank and investor interest, another, Alta at Indian Woods in Stoughton, Mass., closed in January 2010 and recently finished construction with 154 units, 25 percent of which are affordable. She managed the third deal, a 116-unit multi-family project at the former site of Brigham’s ice cream factory in Boston’s Arlington Center, from start to finish. The process involved attending more than 25 zoning and planning board meetings in order to get the height and frontage variances need for the project.

The Arlington project was submitted in March 2010 and involved an uphill battle until approval was granted in February 2011. Grady was able to “tip the scale” of the fight by proving the benefits of sustainable building, showing the town and investors the philosophy of Energy Star and energy efficiency and that residents will have a lower cost of living and a better product. “We were able to convey to the board that we don’t just do this in a nominal way; we are really committed to doing it, and doing it right.”

What Others Have to Say: Who I work with is important,” said Rick Dickason, director of Wood Partners in Boston. “I like to surround myself with pleasant, cheerful people. Adelaide joined in 2009. It was the worst time for the industry, but she was always cheerful and optimistic, which boosted my morale. She is young and energetic and entering the peak of her career. She is an extremely fast learner and is quickly headed up the company ladder of success. Also, I for one appreciate her special knowledge of green building techniques.”

Secrets to Success: Cultivate a unique set of skills and knowledge, but make sure to keep them in context.

Best Advice Received: “Figure out how you would like to spend your day, and then figure out what kind of career can help you spend your day that way.”

Advice to Others: Keep pushing forward and fighting for what you believe in. It will be noticed by the people that matter.  —M.R.

Constantine Kontokosta, 35
Director, Center for the Sustainable Built Environment
at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate
and Principal & Founder
The KACE Group

Memorable Achievements: Kontokosta launched the Center for the Sustainable Built Environment at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate, which works to improve decision-making and sustainable practices in the real estate and construction industries. The center now boasts a 40-person student committee and has earned major projects with the city of New York, the United Nations and various federal agencies. Specifically, the United Nations Environment Program picked the center as a partner on a new initiative to establish baselines in global greenhouse gas emissions from the building sector. And Kontokosta’s KACE Group recently received approval for what will probably be the first LEED Platinum-certified winery in the United States.

What Others Have to Say: “Constantine is a brilliant, young academic and entrepreneur,” observed James Stuckey, dean of the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate.

Secrets to Success: Increase your amount of knowledge over the long term.

Best Advice Received: His father “instilled in me the importance of knowledge and understanding your industry.” 

Advice to Others: Embrace your passion for sustainable development. There are many ways to improve your community. —M.R.

Glen Kunofsky, 39
Senior Vice President of Investments
& Senior Director of the Net Leased Properties Group
Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services

Memorable Achievements: Kunofsky started the Net Leased Properties Group for Marcus & Millichap. He has run the sale-leaseback program for Carrols Corp. for the past few years. He also sold a 29-property portfolio for Cole Real Estate Investments, a large portfolio for Ruth’s Hospitality Group and some larger industrial space for Spirit Finance Corp. Other clients include Whole Foods Market, NPC International, Southern California Pizza Co., Meritage Hospitality, Golden Corral Restaurants, Sentinel Capital Partners and Golden Gate Capital, among others.

What Others Say About Him: “He does what he says. Sometimes it takes enormous tenacity on his part,” said Alan Vituli, chairman of Carrols Corp., for which he has sourced numerous sale-leaseback deals during the past six to eight years. “When he says he’s going to do (something), it’s not simply his intent but all of his energy is behind it and he gets it done.” Peter Mavoides, who is currently managing director of STNL Investors and worked with Kunofsky while president & CEO of Sovereign Investment Co., termed him “one of the most consistent producers” and “one of the most responsive,” someone who is very knowledgeable about sale-leaseback structures and capable in managing both the seller’s and buyer’s expectations and structuring transactions that are amenable to both sides.

Hardest Lesson Learned: To stay focused on his specialty area and not take on jobs just because they are attractive. “Whenever I’ve tried to go outside the box—and I haven’t done it in a few years—I get burned.”

Secrets to Success: Work harder than the competition and really try to please clients. “It all comes down to work ethic.” Also, building relationships, placing emphasis on meeting the people you’re doing business with and visiting the properties.

Best Advice Received: His father taught him to treat people with respect and never burn a bridge.

Advice to Others: Work hard, be diligent, be loyal to your customers and try to give the best advie you can to clients. Also, specialize and be able to handle rejection well. —S.S.

Steve Orchard, 34
Senior Vice President
George Smith Partners

Memorable Achievements: In 2010, Orchard closed $28.7 million in construction financing for a 50,000-square-foot medical facility Nautilus Group is developing for the University of California at Los Angeles’ Santa Monica campus, a deal he started working on in the first quarter of 2009 and closed a year later. Other major deals in recent years have included a $26.3 million bridge loan for the acquisition and repositioning of a 65,000-square-foot office building in Del Mar Heights, Calif.; $28.4 million in a senior loan and preferred equity for the repositioning of a Southern California multi-family portfolio and a $28 million permanent loan for a medical office building in West Los Angeles. He also was instrumental in winning and placing a $70 million CMBS structured financing for a mixed-use center in Scottsdale, Ariz., and a $120 million office deal, among others.

What Others Say About Him: He is “already sitting in on partner meetings” because of his ideas for company improvement, noted Gary Mozer, principal with George Smith Partners. “Our culture is you can do whatever you want as long as you’re productive. He has always added so much value on both the deal side and the corporate side.” He termed Orchard a “leader of the next generation of this company. Everybody loves him.” Put in Randy Miller, president of Nautilus Group, “He goes beyond being a mortgage banker to being an extension of our development team.” The Santa Monica project was particularly challenging because it was financed in a down market, an especially difficult time to obtain construction financing. “I think Steve’s persistence got it done,” Miller observed.

Hardest Lesson Learned: Take care of people first; don’t sacrifice relationships for the sake of the transaction. The real estate community is small, and there is always another deal. Also, details matter. “To be good at what we do, you have to know the facts.”

Secrets to Success: “Endurance. The race isn’t necessarily won by the smartest or the fastest. Commercial real estate is about experience. Sometimes just sticking it out separates you from the competition.”

Best Advice Received: “Tuck in your shirt.” His grandfather taught him actions communicate respect, and respect for people, their time and their endeavors is a prerequisite for delivering quality work in a service business. Practicing being respectful in small, tangible ways improves performance and builds goodwill.

Advice to Others: Don’t be smarter than the market. The results of all your hard work and brilliance have a tendency to revert to the mean. So if you find yourself way out in the lead, be careful. —S.S.

Andy Poppink, 37
Managing Director & Brokerage Lead for the Silicon Valley
Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.

Memorable Achievements: Last year, Poppink completed more than 2 million square feet of transactions, with an estimated gross lease value of more than $322 million. He has a firm belief in creating solid and enduring relationships with his clients, companies such as Apple Inc., Yahoo! Inc. and Twitter Inc. A common theme in Poppink’s work is delivering value and cost-saving initiatives that help drive income. In 2010, he and his team represented chipmaker Broadcom in restructuring and expanding its Silicon Valley portfolio by nearly a third. He helped secure 100,000 square feet in San Jose and 77,000 square feet in Sunnyvale, bringing Broadcom’s Silicon Valley footprint to over 700,000 square feet. The process is saving the company upwards of $16 million in leases. In addition, the Northern California team and its Silicon Valley office have consistently been named one of the “Best Places to Work” on a variety of lists. But his involvement in the merger of Jones Lang LaSalle and Staubach during harsh economic times, and the subsequent growth in the Silicon Valley office, stands out most for Poppink. “Rather than wait out the storm, we ran head first into it and managed to achieve growth over the past two years.”

What Others Have to Say: “It doesn’t surprise me that Andy is being singled out as a rising star in our industry. He is the consummate professional and an all-around team player. He constantly raises the bar for himself, and in the process inspires all of us to be better at what we do,” said Elizabeth Hearle, Pacific Northwest market director for Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. Observed Bart Lammersen, Jones Lang LaSalle managing director of tenant representation for the Silicon Valley, “He is very likeable, very smart and works hard, and I think people respect that. Andy is very accessible, very modest, and just has one of those gifts in his personality; he is able to connect with everyone. He puts in the time and has committed himself to being as true a professional in this line of business as you can be.”

Secrets to Success: Tenacity and a desire to expand his skill set.

Best Advice Received: Keep your teammates in good spirits with positive affirmation.

Advice to Others: “Maintain your desire. Make sure to remain focused on developing a full skill set. People who rush toward finishing short races have more challenging careers than those who make sure they have all the tools, rather than short monetary success.” —M.R.

Elysia Tse, 34
Vice President
BlackRock Inc.

Memorable Achievements: Tse was the first to apply Value at Risk to measure leverage risk in real estate. She helped created the Jones Lang LaSalle Global Real Estate Transparency Index, was the youngest member of the advisory board for the Program in Real Estate at Cornell University and a 2010 CREW Network 20 Under 40 award winner.

What Others Say About Her:  “Elysia is driven to achieve excellence in everything she does. She sets a high standard for herself and for those she works with. Her quantitative skills are top-notch, which makes her a very valuable research analyst. She brings discipline and focus to the task of distinguishing between facts, sound judgment and ‘wishful thinking’ in a pro forma,” according to Jacques Gordon, global investment strategist with LaSalle Investment Management. Noted Dale Gruen, managing director at BlackRock, “What she’s able to do is synthesize a lot of macro and micro trends in the markets and convert that into practical institutional advice.” Although he said he does not consider her the “geeky researcher” she claims to be, he added, “She can hang with the geeky researchers, too.”

Greatest Challenge: Balancing work and personal life, since she tends to spend her personal time developing and working on projects.

Secrets to Success: Having mentors, working hard, being ethical and open-minded, always learning from others.

Best Advice Received: Her father taught her that credibility and integrity are more important than anything else.

Advice to Others: Finding mentors is very important.  —S.S.

Seth Weinstein, 39
Executive Managing Director & Principal,
Global Corporate Services
Newmark Knight Frank

Memorable Achievements: As head of the U.S. global corporate services division, Weinstein has played a key role in securing such Fortune 500 accounts as Morgan Stanley, URS Corp. and McAfee Inc. He was named one of real estate’s “Heavy Hitters” by the Dallas Business Journal in 2010.  As head of the McAfee account, which encompasses 2 million square feet, he completed McAfee’s 242,012-square-foot global headquarters deal in Santa Clara, Calif., in 2010, which earned him its Award of Excellence. He also secured a 60,000-square-foot lease in Richardson, Texas, for Id Software, a pioneer and leading innovator in the PC gaming industry in 2010.    

What Others Have to Say: “What is great about Seth is his ability to innovate and reinvent himself,” said Michael Ippolito, chairman of global corporate services & principal for Newmark Knight Frank. “He is a really good listener with clients, and he is able to understand the real root of their issues and objectives. He is able to help clients develop solutions, and he is able to do that broadly across our complete offering on a global scale. That is what really differentiates Seth from others. In a very short period of time, he understood and incorporated our methodology in how he approaches business, and as a result has been very successful. The fact that he is able to absorb everything we are able to offer, and run with it, is the reason why we put him in charge of the Americas.”

Secrets to Success: “Honesty and hard work. It is important to go above and beyond in order to achieve what’s best for each and every client.”

Best Advice Received: His wife, Kristy, told him, “Get the Newmark Knight Frank deal done!” He explained: “When NKF approached us at Predium, she was a big advocate. She knew I loved (or was impressed with) the firm and the people, and she was right. To date, it has been one of the best decisions of my life.”        

Advice to Others: “This is one of the most challenging, but most rewarding, industries to get into. It takes a tremendous amount of persistence to build a reputation, so make sure to surround yourself with the right team.” —M.R.